José María López on top in first Saturday practice at the Slovakiaring

Citroën Racing’s José María López was fastest of all in the first free practice session at the Slovakiaring on Saturday, his first flying lap of 2:05.201 able to leave him comfortably on top of the time sheets throughout the session, seven-tenths of a second clear of Lada’s Rob Huff.

The bulk of the drivers’ best times all came on their first flying lap at the start of the session, with the abrasive circuit and common use of worn tyres to focus on race set-up in the session meaning few improvements followed.

Ma Qing Hua therefore finished the session third in the second best placed of the Citroëns, while Jaap van Lagen was one of the few to improve late in the session and set the fourth fastest time, just under a second off of López’s pace.

Gabriele Tarquini was the best placed of the Hondas in fifth leading the independent Zengő Motorsport Honda of Norbert Michelisz.

The session was relatively incident free. Tom Coronel had a minor off in his Chevrolet Cruze at Turn 3, bringing gravel back on to the circuit and having to pit to have his radiator grill cleared, while his ROAL Motorsport team-mate Tom Chilton went off at Turn 1 and buried his Chevrolet in the gravel, and was unable to set any further laps in the session.

Despite this, Chilton was still the fastest of the struggling Chevrolet contingent in ninth.

Also out of position was last year’s sole race winner Sébastien Loeb, with the French driver down in 14th position.

Néstor Girolami made steady progress in his Nika International Honda Civic and was in the top ten, 1.3 seconds from the overall pace set by fellow Argentinian driver López.

Free Practice 2 gets underway at 12:00 CET.